Never in all of recorded history have there been homes as outlandish, imaginative, or downright bizarre, as the following 10 dwellings. Each one is or has been used as living quarters. Each is so odd that they merit their own names. Live in any of these houses, and you can truly say “there’s no place like home.”
10 The Chemosphere (USA)
Designed in 1960 by American architect John Lautner, this octagon-shaped, UFO-like house sits on top of a tall concrete pillar set on a Los Angeles hillside. Construction was partly subsidized by the Southern California Gas Company and the Chem Seal Corporation, which supplied experimental coatings and thus inspired the house’s name, “Chemosphere.”
Now the private home of German publisher Benedikt Taschen, the house has appeared in movies like “Men in Black” (1997) and “Charlie’s Angels” (2000).
9 The Domestic Transformer (Hong Kong, China)
Hong Kong is one of the most densely-populated spots on Earth. Understandably, real estate prices in the former British crown colony are some of the highest in the world.
This is why Hong Kong architect Gary Chang decided to make the most out of his family’s old 330-square foot tenement apartment unit, by turning its walls into moving foldable parts. Each wall has efficient storage compartments for just about anything, including appliances, food, clothes, bed, and tub. Depending on which walls he pulls out, Chang can have a bedroom, living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, library, media room, etc.—a total of 24 different room combinations. No wonder he likes to call his home the “Domestic Transformer.”
8 Toilet House (South Korea)
This is one house that’s literally shaped like a toilet bowl, with the lid and seat up. Measuring about 4,500 square feet, this house was built in 2007 in the city of Suweon, South Korea, by Mr. Sim Jae-duck, then the chairman of the organizing committee for the World Toilet Association. For $50,000 per day, visitors can stay and enjoy the world-class toilets housed within. Proceeds go to funding proper sanitary facilities in developing countries.
7 Casa do Penedo (Portugal)
“Casa do Penedo” or “House of Stone” in Northern Portugal’s Nas Montanhas de Fafe looks like it jumped out of “The Flintstones” cartoon.
Built in 1974 as a family vacation house, it’s a house that was built (on purpose) scrunched up in between two giant mountain boulders, to make the house appear as if it grew out from within the rocks then capped on top with a tiled roof and chimney. The windows are built to look skewed and crooked, as if drawn by a child’s hand.
6 Nautilus House (Mexico)
“The Nautilus” is a whimsical family home in Mexico City designed by Javier Senosiain, whose playful work is reminiscent of Catalan modernist architect Antoni Gaudi.
This house looks like something out of Munchkin land: shaped like the nautilus shell, with a stained glass entryway door-window, and living spaces within that fluidly follow the logarithmic spiral structure of the nautilus. There are hardly any sharp corners in the Nautilus house, and interiors are decorated with fanciful furniture, colors, and textures that echo the inner whorls of the shell.
5 Atlas-F Silo Home (USA)
Many Americans seem obsessed with the possibility of facing a “zombie apocalypse.” How obsessed? One of them built a house out of a 1950s Cold War-era underground silo in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.
It’s a massive home, originally built to house a ballistic missile. The starting ground floor alone already spans 1,800 square feet, containing a fireplace, master suite, and bathrooms. There’s even a runway and hangar for a small plane. Below ground are several underground levels now turned into more living space that were meant to keep the harmful effects of nuclear radiation or biological warfare away.
4 Shoe House (USA)
Mahlon Haines was nicknamed the “Shoe Wizard” of York because he built his fortune by selling shoes. He sold them well because he used lots of dramatic advertising gimmicks to catch people’s attention.
The Shoe House he built in 1948 was his greatest advertising gimmick. Measuring 48 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 25 feet high, the giant shoe-shaped house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. It went through several homeowners over the years, before being turned into a museum.
3 Airplane Villa (Nigeria)
There’s a villa on top of a hill in the Nigerian city of Abuj, which is said to have been built by a man named Jammal Said out of love for his wife. It’s meant to be a romantic gesture. But the resulting house looks odd rather than romantic.
Said designed the house as a homage to his wife’s love for travel, by building the body of a plane with a 50-foot wingspan right into the very structure of the home. The plane’s head, nose and tail visibly jut out of the house. In addition to the main house plane, the villa’s guesthouse also bears a plane body on its top portion. An aircraft control tower stands nearby, as a lookout point for the villa’s security.
2 Winchester Mansion (USA)
This was once the home of Sarah Winchester, the crazed widow of firearms magnate William Winchester.
She believed that, because her husband’s business indirectly caused the death of many people, their ghosts would exact revenge on her and the rest of the Winchester family. On the advice of a spirit medium, she began construction of a maze-like mansion.
It is so filled with false staircases, odd turns, and misleading dead-ends, that ghosts supposedly get lost in them and fail in their mission of vengeance.
1 The Keret House (Poland)
Israeli author Etgar Keret had a special house designed and built for him by architect Jakub Szczesny.
The Jewish author was known for writing minimalist short stories, and for being the child of Jewish-Polish parents who survived the Holocaust. Szczesny wanted to build the thinnest and sparest house possible, to reflect Keret’s family history and writing style, and as an homage to Warsaw’s tragic World War II experience and rebirth.
He succeeded in building it between 22 Chlodna Street and 74 Zelazna Street in Warsaw. Called the “Keret House”, it’s the narrowest house in the world at 2-3 floors high, but only 3 to 5 feet wide. Each floor area is about 44 square feet.
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